Optimism is flowing through Red Sox Nation after the Boston boys have won their first Opening Day since 2010 (against these Yankees). You would be hard-pressed to find a Red Sox fan who isn’t feeling the rush after the phenomenal 8-2 showing that the Red Sox put up against the hated Yankees. One can only hope that this game is prophetic of the season the Red Sox are going to have after the full-team effort which saw nearly everybody contribute up and down the lineup. There was a lot to like and not a lot to dislike apart from 13 runners left on base in a fantastic game, so let’s take a look at the individual aspects which we all hope continue for the rest of the season.
The biggest change from the 2012 team offensively was the patience that the team displayed. The Red Sox drew eight walks and a few players really put in the extra effort, as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (not traditionally a player who walks much as evidenced by his .288 OBP in 2012) each walked three times. Will Middlebrooks also walked once and Jonny Gomes was intentionally walked, meaning that as a team, the Red Sox walked at an excellent 16.7% clip and reached base at an even better .438 mark.
Those walks really contributed to a couple of rallies that the Red Sox put together as Saltalamacchia scored two runs as did Bradley Jr. In the RBI department, it was the top of the lineup doing most of the damage as Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-6 with 2 RBIs, Shane Victorino went 2-6 with 3 RBIs, and Dustin Pedroia went 2-6 with an RBI. Another source of production from an unexpected source was Jose Iglesias batting in the nine hole, as he went 3-5 with a run and RBI.
As good as the offense was, though, they didn’t outshine the pitching staff by too much. Apart from a shaky fourth inning where Jon Lester allowed two runs, he really showed potential to be the ace the Red Sox needed to be. He had the strikeout pitch working all game long as he struck out 7 batters through 5 innings.
The bullpen was also excellent as Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa, and Joel Hanrahan all showed the shutdown stuff expected of them. If the Red Sox want to contend this year, they need the starting and relief pitching to both live up to their potential. That was absolutely the case in this game as they held the Yankees to 2 runs and 6 hits while striking out 10 New York batters. Coupled with the offense, the Red Sox really delivered a knockout punch on Opening Day and, in a best case scenario, they can channel that throughout the entire season.